Data Migration as Asset Strategy
RSP’s Bill Meyer explains the three fundamentals of successful data migration and how data can be a powerful, strategic asset to any organization.
Today’s businesses are grappling with underutilized workspaces and excess real estate, all while meeting the increased demands of ESG reporting, resiliency strategies and an evolving (i.e., increasingly remote) workforce. The lynchpin is data: Data from a variety of sources, collated into a central source of truth, that forms the basis of informed decisions, more accurate forecasts and efficient operations. For many organizations, this means that some form of data migration—from a legacy platform to a new one, to the cloud or to the edge—and that strikes fear in all reasonable people.
It doesn’t have to be so bad. There are several Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) applications in the marketplace today, and they all offer a range of solutions for managing data. In a 2023 report, Research & Markets found that the deployment of an IWMS solution can lead to a reduction in facility maintenance costs of 14%, an improvement in workspace management by up to 40% and an increase in facility usage efficiency of 42%.
The results are convincing. But how do we get there? For many organizations, finding or even harvesting the data is not a problem. They have it. And they have the resources to collect it. They just can’t get to it. It’s either stuck in an outdated or corrupted storage system or the bandwidth (both physical and emotional) simply isn’t there. And so it sits.
Here at RSP, we’ve worked with a number of organizations and institutions who have successfully navigated a migration process. We’ve identified three prime factors that drive positive results.
Define the Purpose of Data Migration
What are we trying to solve? What are the barriers? Where is the data stored? Many organizations have information stored in disparate locations, leading to frustration and siloed decision-making. So, from the outset, be clear on what the goal is and why that goal is important—to the organization and the stakeholders.
In the discovery phase, it’s imperative to include a diverse group of stakeholders beyond facility management. Groups like human resources, finance and information technology play key roles in understanding business needs and strategic targets. It’s equally important to understand the terminology used by each group to identify common data points and develop a clear data map for the business.
Validate the Information
Building on the defined purpose, take a closer look at the data. Gather the information from whatever system (or systems) is storing it, process what’s being articulated, and ensure it’s accurate. One of the primary goals when converting from one system to another is validating data from the legacy systems and making sure there is an appropriate data match in the new system. Consistent and clean information is key, and now is the time to correct.
Do not be afraid of testing or validating the data, even if it has schedule implications. Any errors in the legacy data will almost certainly re-emerge post-migration, causing no end of frustration and abortive effort.
Make Data Part of Your Company Culture
Data migration projects are not for the faint of heart. It takes a concerted effort and careful examination of processes, users and workflows that typically touch an entire business eco-system. Do not under-estimate the amount of time and planning that goes into even the most basic initiatives. But also don’t segregate the effort—data touches everyone so make it a part of company culture.
Use the opportunity to develop a data governance strategy, which will not only boost accuracy and quality but will define data ethics and a code of behavior that will strengthen operations. Document where the data is, where it needs to go, how it is used and who uses it. Then, leverage the documentation in performing ongoing data maintenance through data views, forms and reports.
Case Study: Washington County and FM:Systems
Washington County is the fifth-most populous county in Minnesota according to the 2020 census. The County’s facilities include 26 buildings, spanning nearly 1M square feet, with 1,700 employees. The County was using an IWMS tool that was costly to maintain and limited in serving their facility management needs. They were seeking a solution that staff could configure on their own, as well as provide expanded features to meet evolving business needs. With RSP’s guidance, the team selected FM:Systems FMS:Workplace for a reliable workplace management solution.
RSP Architects worked closely with Washington County to conduct a needs analysis of their current solution to ensure FMS:Workplace was set up to match the way the County needed it to function over the short- and long-term. This involved identifying the legacy data, confirming its accuracy and categorization, and lightly configuring the new system for easy adoption.
We identified how the current system was being used to help build an understanding of how to configure the new system. Templates proved to be crucial for identifying how data should be cleaned up for a friction-free import into the new system. Additional benefits of the new system include:
- A space management portal created a one-stop-shop to maintain information across the County’s entire portfolio.
- On-demand facility maintenance requests are now managed by seamlessly integrating with space management.
- Preventative maintenance templates offer efficiency and automation. They also offer a comprehensive maintenance log and history, providing key metrics for facility operations.
- Reporting and notifications for planning, tracking trends and identifying risks takes the guess work out of managing assets.